Friday, May 1, 2009

Swine Flu, The Terror of the Unknown

When it comes to the mention of the Swine Flu, worry, confusion and even terror comes to the faces of those questioned. Why should it not, when what we know is far out weighed by the unknown and potentially deadly.

To begin with, why was WHO involved in a seemingly mild outbreak from the very first? Was it because they knew something far worse and deadly was already moving? There are reports in Mexico that the first infections actually started as far back as March. If that is the fact and WHO was already involved, why were there no quarentens on the areas affected, back then? Why the wait, until the disease broke forth into the general Mexican population?

Equally, there is the disease itself. Four different viruses from three different animals all in one. True, when a virus infects a cell, it picks up bits of DNA that are floating around, that is how this non living entity mutates as it goes from host to host. Of course, to mix four viruses, one human, two swine and one avian, in one subject, is an astronomically tiny chance, especially when one of those swine viruses is from Asia. To this effect, the Dallas Co. Medical Director, Dr. John Carlo stated “This strain of swine influenza that’s been cultured in a laboratory is something that’s not been seen anywhere actually in the United States and the world, so this is actually a new strain of influenza that’s been identified".

The complexity of this flu, one that combines the worst of all four, the, human element of which allows it to pass much more easily from person to person and the avian nature of which allows it to kill off those with the healthiest immune systems by over loading those immune systems and flooding the lungs with fluids, while the swine portion finishes off the old and young, has given the flu a 5-10% kill rate. To make a comparison, the usual yearly human flu has a kill rate of .1%, while the Spanish Flu had a kill rate of 1% and an infection rate of 50%. If one does the straight math of 5% death and 50% infection rate, the US can expect 7.5 million dead in a matter of 3-5 months, following the Spanish Flu model of 16 major weeks of infection before it started to burn out. If Mexico, with a much worse medical system, takes up 10%, as a max rate and a 50% infection rate, it will suffer some 5.5 million casualties.

Other issues are of course raised from the known facts:

First: while there have been many infections in the US, both proven and suspected are more then likely well over a thousand, the only fatality so far was a Mexican child. The question of course is: why are Mexicans dieing while other races, even other Hispanics, seem to get only a much milder form? Is this due to the lack of Mexican medical facilities and the state of the slums around Mexico City and other major Mexican cities? Is the virus some how "preprogrammed" to specific genotypes? If the virus is laboratory created, this last point can not be out right excluded, as modern technology quite easily lends itself to such possibilities.

Next is the question that any ration person, especially one living right next door to Mexico, in the USA, must be asking: why, unlike the whole of the world, is the US government doing absolutely nothing to safe guard the people, outside of a few empty words. Is the worry over profits from a cut back in trade, so strong that protection of the people is ignored? Are the authorities so ignorant that they will not contemplate the costs in lives of this epidemic? Or is there something worse, some plan that requires the American public to be an epicenter of infection? What social impacts will this have upon the growing discontent with an already oppressive and all encompassing governmental regime?

Then there is the question of what social and economic effects this will have, especially in the long run. With an already chronically ill US and European economy, what effect will this have? Trade with the US is already being cut, with swine products being banned in Russia, Japan and other nations. This will drive farmers out of business in massive quantities, in the US, a market where consumers are cutting back on meat, due to lack of income. Further, even if this is a mild viral infection for most Americans, Hispanics included, the major illness rate, with millions staying home, will have a major impact on the economy, driving even more firms into bankruptcy, as employees do not show up and shoppers avoid stores and thus purchases. Upcoming travel bans will also have major effects upon tourist destinations just as tourism season starts.

Of course the major pharma companies, especially the American ones, must be rejoicing, as this is a golden opportunity for them that they could only have dreamed about.

In Mexico, a land already wracked by a major civil war with drug cartels, where the two main cartels, out of some dozen different cartels, have enough military force to openly challenge the Mexican military, this added burden and the shut down of the economy, will more then likely put the collapse of the nation into over drive. The world can expect a Mexican collapse by summer's end. If, once anarchy spreads, Mexican gunmen take the model of the Somalis, they could all but shut down, at least temporarily, oil production and trade through the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Islands. The cost of reopening both will be quite a high cost addition.

So, while the tiny bits of information are repeated and repeated in an endless stream of non-information and key issues are ignored, by passed or withheld from the population, the effects of the virus are already taking place, whether the world realizes it or not.

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